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Blogger Q&A: Manchester United blog The Busby Babe

We speak to our SBN counterparts.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With Everton taking on Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League, we spoke with Andi Thomas from SB Nation's Manchester United blog 'The Busby Babe' about what's been going on at Old Trafford.

RBM - For every star in the world of football, getting linked with United is almost a rite of passage. Who among that throng really interests you?

TBB - Well - with all due respect to the location of this Q&A - the Romelu Lukaku rumours make a lot of sense from United's perspective: there's a hole in the squad marked 'proper good striker' which he would fill perfectly. He could do better though, so I've no real optimism on that front.

Beyond him, who knows? One of the great burdens that we poor United fans have to bear is that there are so many rumours, about so many players, that so often turn out to be nonsense, that there's almost no value in getting even vaguely excited about any of them. You can spend ages inhaling Youtube clips and running newspaper reports through Google translate and scouring Twitter, only for it to turn out that all the player really wanted was a shiny new contract. It's a hard life, this. But we struggle on. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be fun.

RBM - What's the latest on the Jose Mourinho to Old Trafford saga? Is this really a done deal or is it all also tabloid fodder?

TBB - Speaking as somebody just about as far from ITK as it's possible to be, the general consensus seems to be that it's going to happen. Apart from anything else, the proposed alternatives are all fairly uninspiring: Giggs' only experience has been as assistant to two failed managers; Van Gaal means well but his teams don't play well; and it's very, very hard to imagine United's hierarchy plucking an appointment from leftfield. Ed Woodward wouldn't know Thomas Tuchel if he fell over him. That said, if Tottenham win the league he'll presumably make at least one undignified swipe at Mauricio Pochettino.

RBM - How, if at all, is this affecting Louis van Gaal and the players as they try to go about their regular business?

TBB - It's very hard to tell, because even when he was absolutely safe in his position and leading United on to a glorious oranje-tinted future, the team looked like a jittery mess. A personal suspicion is that now United are out of the Europa League the squad and the management will have resigned themselves to the fact that there will be change at the end of the season, and so from now everybody will be a bit more relaxed. Demob happy, even. Certainly the squad seemed quite composed against Manchester City. Though that might be thanks to Martin Demichelis.

RBM - With United just one point behind fourth-placed City, qualifying for the Champions League must be top priority at Old Trafford?

TBB - Correct. Well, top priority after acquiring new lubrication sponsors. And inflating the Glazers' bank balance. And inflating Wayne Rooney's bank balance. And naming parts of the stadium after irascible old knights of the realm. Realistically, though, if United qualify for the Champions League it will be because everybody else has bottled it in hilarious fashion. Not fourth best; seventeenth least-worst. We'd take it, obviously, not least for the sight of Pep "Pep" Guardiola in the Europa League. But I don't expect it.

RBM - Will van Gaal field a weakened side against West Ham (who are also in the UCL running) in the FA Cup quarter final replay?

TBB - The above notwithstanding, I wouldn't have thought so. The FA Cup represents Van Gaal's best chance of a trophy in the time remaining to him, and he does seem sincere in his affection for the old competition. In any case, how could you tell? Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson ... the kids are the first team now. Maybe if Rooney makes his comeback, we'll know he's throwing the game.

RBM - United's famed youth system always seems to produce gems like Marcus Rashford. Who else do you have hidden back there?

TBB - Looking for a sneak preview of the new Darron Gibson, right? Well, there's Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who's made a couple of appearances for the first team already this season, and is rated pretty highly by people who know about these sorts of things. He seems comfortable with a football at his feet, can play in defence or midfield, and tackles like Nemanja Vidic with a persistent headache. All very pleasing.

Also of note are two more defenders: Regan Poole, a Welsh youth international who got on for the last minute against FC Midtjylland, and Axel Tuanzebe, who was Young Player of the Year last season. Oh, and Callum Gribbin. Nicky Butt rates him, and he's got an excellent name.


Our thanks to The Busby Babe for their humorous take on our questions.